Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reproductive Rights Are Worse Than Slavery

According to Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona. And not just reproductive rights in general but those of African-American women in particular:

FRANK: In this country, we had slavery for God knows how long. And now we look back on it and we say "How brave were they? What was the matter with them? You know, I can't believe, you know, four million slaves. This is incredible." And we're right, we're right. We should look back on that with criticism. It is a crushing mark on America's soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery. And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?

What does it take to get us to wake up? I bet he's not thinking about offering more support for women who have children, more support for schools and health care and so on for families who are struggling. I bet he's thinking about banning abortion altogether.

As Think Progress points out, Franks' comment may be linked to a new anti-abortion campaign. It aims to make abortion illegal, as all of them do, but this time it is aimed specifically at the African-American community. Today's New York Times has a piece on this new campaign. I'm not qualified to discuss the assertions it makes about Planned Parenthood, for example, and neither am I qualified to judge the history of racial oppression in this country and how it affects the present.

But my impression is that the writer too easily accepted the conservative framing which offers the removal of women's reproductive rights as the solution to cutting abortion rates within the African-American community, without looking at the economic support people need to have children in the first place or how much the conservatives have been willing to offer such support in the past (not much) or the availability of contraception to young people in general and so on.
A post-script: This statistical page gives information on birth rates and total fertility rates by race. The African-American community is not decimated because of reproductive choice. That, after all, seems to be the campaign's argument.